News on the Writers Guild (WGA) Negotiations
I want to share important information with our ADG 800 membership that was conveyed to me in a meeting today with IATSE President Matthew D. Loeb. Also present at the meeting were VP Michael F. Miller, IATSE Legal Staff, IATSE Motion Picture Division Reps and other heads of IATSE film and television locals throughout the United States.
President Loeb stated in the meeting that there was presently no new, or known, information about the status of the negotiations between the Writers Guild of America (WGA) and the AMPTP. However, it is known that the WGA agreement with the AMPTP expires at midnight on Monday, May 1st. Therefore, at 12:01 AM PT on Tuesday morning, May 2, 2023, that contract is expired.
President Loeb said that there are three options for this negotiation:
- To settle the agreement
- To extend (and buy more time to reach an agreement)
- WGA members go on strike
President Loeb stated that he doubts an extension is in the cards.
He fully expects to have conversations between now and then with Ellen Stutzman (Asst. Exec Director of WGA West and Chief Negotiator for the writers) and Lowell Peterson (Exec Director for WGA East).
Based on past experience(s) with the AMPTP, the employers may be dragging their feet and posturing. We should not be surprised if they had not even spoken yet about the issues most important to the Writers Guild with the executive CEOs at their member companies.
However, and most importantly at this time, we must maintain the awareness that the WGA is a union and, therefore, a win for the AMPTP could only be construed as a loss for all of us.
We must act like a union in solidarity!
Therefore, the following highlights have been provided by the IATSE Legal Department:
- “No Strike” clauses are articulated in all IATSE agreements.
- However, none of our contracts prohibit any union individual from honoring the picket line of any legally sanctioned strike.
- Therefore, no member can be legally punished for following their conscience and honoring a picket line. (Chuck Parker, as an individual, does not cross picket lines.)
- The Employer has the right to temporarily replace someone who chooses to not cross a picket line with someone else who decides to cross. However, that person may not legally be replaced permanently.
- Members who decide to not cross a picket line are free to join in and support the job action by walking the line.
- If walking the line in support, members may NOT carry picket signs that contain graphic representation of either the IATSE logo/name or the logo/name of an IATSE local union.
- Members may, however, wear t-shirts/hats/sweatshirts bearing their local’s logo. (Just not something that specifically references the particular job action. Doing so violates the no-strike clause.)
There is a difference between an organizationally sanctioned strike and an individual’s right to honor a picket line. They are not necessarily mutually exclusive.
All IATSE members’ rights to honor a picket line of any legally sanctioned strike are protected in our different contracts.
The employer has the right to temporarily replace you should you decide to not cross the picket line and not show up for work, but you may not be permanently replaced for exercising that right. That would be a violation of federal labor law.
IMPORTANT NOTE ON UNEMPLOYMENT INSURANCE:
Honoring a picket line would most likely disqualify one from receiving unemployment insurance payments. (The EDD would likely view that as turning down available work).
Three Additional Points:
- Remember that some shows currently in production are shooting from scripts that have already been written and paid for, during a period when the writers were working under a valid contract.
- If ADG 800 members continue to work on such projects as described above, or decide to cross a line to work, remember that they have the right to refuse to do work that is uncharacteristic of the day-to-day duties that existed prior to the beginning of the strike.
- Crucially, if honoring a picket line, be careful that any public support you express is done so solely as an individual, and not representative of any organization.